Saturday, December 22, 2007
Merry Christmas to Me - New Paddle
Santa brought me a new 6.5" Infinity fiberglass otter tail paddle for Christmas. Santa's a shrewd guy...he's got the same credit card as me!
I ordered the paddle from the Infinity website after making an inquiry through the contact link on the site. I got the man himself (Steve Boehne) answering back and after five or six back and forth emails re blade size, paddle length, price, etc. we sealed the deal and he shipped the paddle to me last Monday. Out the door I paid $320. Steve picked up the tax and the paddle comes with clear plastic paddle edging already installed. I got it Thursday in time for my session yesterday. That's great service!
I think it's a given that just about everything re SUPing is expensive when compared to prone surfing. Boards are more money, and in addition to that, one needs a paddle. Therefore when I decided to try the otter tail I initially inquired about the much less expensive ($165) wood model. But Steve informed me that his supplier was no longer able to get the wood otter tails, and that he only had two left in inventory, a 70" and 75" model. I needed an 82" paddle. So I bit the bullet and ordered the slightly cheaper fiberglass shaft (as compared to carbon fiber), 6.5" blade model recommended for surfing.
One of the primary reasons I wanted this particular paddle is that it is refuted to be a bit easier on the joints. At my age, easier on the joints sounds pretty good. I've developed a mild case of medial epicondylitis aka golfers elbow in my left elbow. This condition is easily treated but can linger, so I thought I'd try preventing further inflammations from occurring by reducing the stress on the tendon at the joint in question. The general wisdom re low surface area paddle blades states that paddlers can stroke at a higher rate of repetition, thus reducing stress injuries. Larger surface area blades make for a slower cadence with reduced ppm's (paddles per minute).But there are other reasons for the paddle purchase too.
The shape of the blade allows the paddler to get a quicker start from a dead stop because there is less resistance in the water. The blade is narrower at the tip and one can adjust the amount of water flowing past the blade by the depth at which the blade is inserted into the water. I immediately noticed the difference yesterday between my Kialoa Kole paddle and the Infinity otter tail. There was so much less resistance with the Infinity that at first I thought I was going to have trouble paddling into a wave. But that didn't prove to be true.
I like the less resistance quick start characteristic of the otter tail. On several waves I had to work hard to drop in because of my positioning, but I don't think I missed anything due to the paddle. Conversely I found that I could work up a pretty good head of steam by digging deep with the paddle blade and widening my grip on the paddle shaft. This gave me the full area of the paddle blade for propulsion and the wider hand placement provided the necessary leverage to power the blade.
The Infinity paddle shaft itself is a bit larger in circumference than the Kialoa and the shape is different. The otter tail shaft is round while the Kialoa shaft is more elliptical. The carbon fiber Kialoa is much more slippery when wet while the fiberglass retained a more "grippy" feel. I don't think I will need to install a paddle shaft grip pad like I did with the Kialoa.
Like always it takes a while to get used to something new and/or different. While I miss the more full bodied response of the wider blade Kialoa, I like the finesse of the otter tail. Whodda thought I'd have a quiver of paddles? But that's what it is. Just like one has different surfboards in their quiver, and various fins in their fin quiver, different paddles respond differently. Longterm I'm thinking the Kialoa would be a good distance paddle. I'm sure I'll switch back and forth just for fun. And that, along with physical fitness, is what it's all about!
Mele kalikimaka Santa.
For more info on this here's a pretty good review of the otter tail paddle. (Click here.)